Sunday, January 29, 2012

Raw at Homespace + Four at the Front

There were times in the past when the mostly co-op galleries of the St. Claude Arts District resembled graduate school  exhibitions connected to a neighborhood instead of a university. The latest evidence that times have changed can be seen in this salon style show at Homespace organized by New York/Nola art veterans Luis Cruz Azaceta and Sharon Jacques. Here works by 34 established and emerging artists reflect the pointedly humanistic perspective of the curators. The title, Raw, sets the tone as imagery like Angela Davis, left, by master of maniacal social commentary Peter Saul, shares space with the no less maniacal if less known Raw Heads  sculptures by Nola artist Gary Oaks (also at Barristers), while Deborah Luster's conceptual crime scene photos provide biting counterpoint. But subtlety is also evident in Monica Zeringue's mysteriously kinky silk, hair and crystal sculpture, Desire, and in Kevin Kline's altar of votive candles that feature photo portraits of local characters instead of saints, bottom. Their faces reveal no dearth of pathos, suggesting that martyrdom and redemption may be profoundly personal matters, questions of perspective shared by saint and sinner alike.

The four exhibitions at the Front also feature emerging and accomplished artists, only here they are one and the same. In the years since its founding in the wake of hurricane Katrina, the member artists of this co-op gallery have produced ever more polished and eloquent presentations, as we see in Rachel Jones' elegiac paintings of flora and fauna, the living and the dead displayed in altar-like arrangements. Stephanie Patton and Rachel Avena Brown's enigmatic efforts invite and confound our expectations in typically  provocative ways, even as Dave Greber and Angela Ferguson's psychedelic video and soft sculpture installation, above, is as flamboyant as we might expect while reminding us that accomplishment need not necessarily entail any diminution of surprise. ~Bookhardt

RAW: A Salon Exhibition of 34 Artists, Saturdays and Sundays Through Feb. 5, Homespace Gallery, 1128 St. Roch Ave., 917-584-9867;
New Work by Rachel Jones, Rachel Avena Brown, Stephanie Patton, Dave Greber, Andrea Ferguson, Saturdays & Sundays Through Feb. 5, The Front, 4100 St. Claude Ave., 920-3980;